RRC Continues Work to Assist Legislature with Winter Storm Response

March 18, 2021

AUSTIN – In the aftermath of Winter Storm Uri, the Railroad Commission has worked diligently with the Texas Legislature, other state agencies, and industry stakeholders to provide meaningful solutions to the challenges that our state faced during the storm.

In response to the recent hearings in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Chairman Christi Craddick offered several tangible and responsible recommendations to legislators. Understanding that electricity is the best winterization tool, the proposals discussed include:

  • Formalize the Texas Energy Reliability Council (TERC) – TERC is comprised of members from the RRC, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the Public Utility Commission, and members of the natural gas industry. Strengthening this group through statute would allow these key stakeholders to improve communication and ensure emergency preparedness.
  • Convene an RRC administrative hearing to consider and update curtailment priorities – The RRC took proactive actions and issued an energy order to elevate human needs customers to a high priority prior to Winter Storm Uri. The current curtailment priorities for natural gas transport and sale were established in 1972, and an updated order is timely.
  • Ensure that critical oil and gas infrastructure is appropriately registered with ERCOT and electric utilities – Ensuring that electricity providers grant these critical energy producing facilities priority status is crucial to preventing power outages in the future.
  • Require natural gas-fired electric generators to secure firm gas transportation capacity and adequate natural gas supply – Thorough examination of these contracting procedures is key to understanding the limitations experienced by these power plants. The state should explore all additional storage options and contracting methods for these facilities.

“This agency is uniquely positioned to leverage the best practices utilized by both the industries we regulate and the regulatory strategies we employ to be part of the solution in the wake of Winter Storm Uri,” said Chairman Craddick. “I am committed to working with my colleagues here at the Commission and at the Capitol to develop meaningful solutions that protect all Texans moving forward.”

“Texas cannot afford to come within minutes of total electric grid system failure ever again,” said Commissioner Wayne Christian. “It is important for state agencies and the industries we regulate to be proactive in our communication and coordination with one another to ensure our constituents have access to reliable energy when they need it most.”

“Identifying and monitoring critical infrastructure prior to extreme weather events is a crucial part of our path forward,” said Commissioner Jim Wright. “This along with increased communication through TERC will ensure we are able to plan and prepare for weather events much better in the future. I look forward to working with my colleagues and staff at the Commission to implement these and other measures as we learn and move froward from winter storm Uri.”

About the Railroad Commission:
Our mission is to serve Texas by our stewardship of natural resources and the environment, our concern for personal and community safety, and our support of enhanced development and economic vitality for the benefit of Texans. The Commission has a long and proud history of service to both Texas and to the nation, including almost 100 years regulating the oil and gas industry. The Commission also has jurisdiction over alternative fuels safety, natural gas utilities, surface mining and intrastate pipelines. Established in 1891, the Railroad Commission of Texas is the oldest regulatory agency in the state. To learn more, please visit http://www.rrc.texas.gov/about-us/.